The Daily News, Friday, July 12, 1996 20
Right tree can.enhance your home
At the root of every good land-
scape plan is the selection and
placement of trees. But picking a
specimen that will work over the
long haul is not as easy as it seems.
The right tree choice can be a
major enhancement to both envi-
ronment and lifestyle. But make the
wrong selection, and you will get a
sore thumb that just gets bigger as
the years go by.
There arc dozens of native trees
that will fil your landscape perfect-
ly. But some trees can be more
trouble than they're worth. Trees
like flamboyant and bearded fig
have shallow root systems that'can
damage a nearby sidewalk or drive-
way or cause problems with your
So it is important to know your
trees and your landscape objec-
trves before you make your
selection. Do you need a tree that
will provide shade, one for protec-
tion from the wind or a simply col-
crful accent? Do you need one that
w:ll frame your home, or one that
will screen it from passers-hy?
You also need to understand
yolr soil and climate conditions.
Some trees will only grow well
with regular maintenance. For
example, some trees require regular
watering, while others are more
Remember when locating your
tree!. that two or three well placed
accents can do far more for a land-
scape than a dozen crowded and
Some general considerations for
tree placement include:
Locate a spreading deciduous
tree on the hot side of the house,
usually the southwest comer, to cre-
ate shade. If space is limited, you
can use more upright trees. They
digging two or three holes in the
. bottom of the planting hole with a
O~s e post hole digger. Fill the post holes
Davis with gravel. Cover the gravel loose-
U Oly with a screening material to keep
O- .the soil from compacting around the
gravel. It is also possible, if the ter-
rain permits, to dig a trench or lay a
: .. : PVC pipe on the downhill side of
may not provide enough shade for a the hole to remove excess water.
seating aica. perhaps, but they will If such improvements does not
cast enough shadow to shade a win- provide enough additional drainage
dow. to the site, or if they are impractical
Avoid placing a large-trunk or impossible to accomplish, be
tree directly in front of your home. sure to choose trees known for their
If you place it to either side and tolerance of such conditions.
away from the house, it will frame Before planting your tree,
it without obstructing the view of always remove the container from
its exterior. the plant by inverting the container
rather than by pulling the trunk.
Avoid planting tall upright Handle the plant by the ball, not by
trees at the corners of the house. the trunk, because a broken ball or
This only serves to accent strong disturbed root system can mean a
vertical lines and give the home the dead plant
appearance of being narrow and Carefully place the tree in the
tall. L.I. k.f ill kS. hl. lwith the Soil
When planning a screen, first
determine the amount or privacy
you want. Do not plant trees that
will block your view.
Once you have selected your
tree, it is important to give it a prop-
er start. To plant balled-and-
burlapped or containcr-grown trees,
dig a hole large enough in diameter
so that the root system has at least
six inches of clearance on all sides.
Make the hole no deeper than the
root ball, which should rest on solid
soil. In poorly drained soils, it is
better for the hole to be too shallow
than toodeep. .
To check the drainage of your
soil, try this test. Dig a hole compa-
rable in depth to the planting area.
Fill it with water. If half the water
does not drain out in 24 hours, con-
sider improving the drainage. :,.
You can improve drainage by
that came out of it. You can add
organic matter to existing soil for a
50-50 mix. When the hole is half
full, stop and water thoroughly,
then resume backfilling. Cover the
top of the root ball with soil. but do
not mound soil up on the trunk.
After the hole is completely full,
water the tree again.
Light surface fertilization at
about half the rate for established
trees is desirable throughout the
first growing season.
There is an ancient saying
throughout West Africa, "When the
last tree dies, the last man also
So why not plant a tree today?
Olasee Davis, who holds a mas-
ter of science degree in range man*
agement and forestry ecology, is a
St. Croix ecologist, activist and